QUESTION 73: OF THE CHANGE OF BREAD AND WINE INTO THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
We have to consider the change of the bread and wine into the body and
blood of Christ; under which head there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the substance of bread and wine remain in this sacrament
after the consecration?*
(2) Whether it is annihilated?
(3) Whether it is changed into the body and blood of Christ?
(4) Whether the accidents remain after the change?
(5) Whether the substantial form remains there?
(6) Whether this change is instantaneous?
(7) Whether it is more miraculous than any other change?
(8) By what words it may be suitably expressed?
[*The titles of the Articles here given were taken by St. Thomas from his
Commentary on the Sentences (Sent. iv, D, 90). However, in writing the
Articles he introduced a new point of inquiry, that of the First Article;
and substituted another division of the matter under discussion, as may
be seen by referring to the titles of the various Articles. Most editions
have ignored St. Thomas's original division, and give the one to which he
Article 1: Whether the body of Christ be in this sacrament in very truth, or merely as in a figure or sign?
Objection 1: It seems that the body of Christ is not in this sacrament in very
truth, but only as in a figure, or sign. For it is written (Jn. 6:54)
that when our Lord had uttered these words: "Except you eat the flesh of
the Son of Man, and drink His blood," etc., "Many of His disciples on
hearing it said: 'this is a hard saying'": to whom He rejoined: "It is
the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing": as if He were
to say, according to Augustine's exposition on Ps. 4 [*On Ps. 98:9]:
"Give a spiritual meaning to what I have said. You are not to eat this
body which you see, nor to drink the blood which they who crucify Me are
to spill. It is a mystery that I put before you: in its spiritual sense
it will quicken you; but the flesh profiteth nothing."
Objection 2: Further, our Lord said (Mt. 28:20): "Behold I am with you all
days even to the consummation of the world." Now in explaining this,
Augustine makes this observation (Tract. xxx in Joan.): "The Lord is on
high until the world be ended; nevertheless the truth of the Lord is here
with us; for the body, in which He rose again, must be in one place; but
His truth is spread abroad everywhere." Therefore, the body of Christ is
not in this sacrament in very truth, but only as in a sign.
Objection 3: Further, no body can be in several places at the one time. For
this does not even belong to an angel; since for the same reason it could
be everywhere. But Christ's is a true body, and it is in heaven.
Consequently, it seems that it is not in very truth in the sacrament of
the altar, but only as in a sign.
Objection 4: Further, the Church's sacraments are ordained for the profit of
the faithful. But according to Gregory in a certain Homily (xxviii in
Evang.), the ruler is rebuked "for demanding Christ's bodily presence."
Moreover the apostles were prevented from receiving the Holy Ghost
because they were attached to His bodily presence, as Augustine says on
Jn. 16:7: "Except I go, the Paraclete will not come to you" (Tract. xciv
in Joan.). Therefore Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar
according to His bodily presence.
On the contrary, Hilary says (De Trin. viii): "There is no room for
doubt regarding the truth of Christ's body and blood; for now by our
Lord's own declaring and by our faith His flesh is truly food, and His
blood is truly drink." And Ambrose says (De Sacram. vi): "As the Lord
Jesus Christ is God's true Son so is it Christ's true flesh which we
take, and His true blood which we drink."
I answer that, The presence of Christ's true body and blood in this
sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith
alone, which rests upon Divine authority. Hence, on Lk. 22:19: "This is
My body which shall be delivered up for you," Cyril says: "Doubt not
whether this be true; but take rather the Saviour's words with faith; for
since He is the Truth, He lieth not."
Now this is suitable, first for the perfection of the New Law. For, the
sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of
Christ's Passion, according to Heb. 10:1: "For the law having a shadow of
the good things to come, not the very image of the things." And therefore
it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ
should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself
crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth.
And therefore this sacrament which contains Christ Himself, as Dionysius
says (Eccl. Hier. iii), is perfective of all the other sacraments, in
which Christ's virtue is participated.
Secondly, this belongs to Christ's love, out of which for our salvation
He assumed a true body of our nature. And because it is the special
feature of friendship to live together with friends, as the Philosopher
says (Ethic. ix), He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying
(Mt. 24:28): "Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered
together." Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His
bodily presence; but unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the
truth of His body and blood. Hence (Jn. 6:57) he says: "He that eateth
My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him." Hence this
sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope,
from such familiar union of Christ with us.
Thirdly, it belongs to the perfection of faith, which concerns His
humanity just as it does His Godhead, according to Jn. 14:1: "You believe
in God, believe also in Me." And since faith is of things unseen, as
Christ shows us His Godhead invisibly, so also in this sacrament He shows
us His flesh in an invisible manner.
Some men accordingly, not paying heed to these things, have contended
that Christ's body and blood are not in this sacrament except as in a
sign, a thing to be rejected as heretical, since it is contrary to
Christ's words. Hence Berengarius, who had been the first deviser of this
heresy, was afterwards forced to withdraw his error, and to acknowledge
the truth of the faith.
Reply to Objection 1: From this authority the aforesaid heretics have taken
occasion to err from evilly understanding Augustine's words. For when
Augustine says: "You are not to eat this body which you see," he means
not to exclude the truth of Christ's body, but that it was not to be
eaten in this species in which it was seen by them. And by the words: "It
is a mystery that I put before you; in its spiritual sense it will
quicken you," he intends not that the body of Christ is in this sacrament
merely according to mystical signification, but "spiritually," that is,
invisibly, and by the power of the spirit. Hence (Tract. xxvii),
expounding Jn. 6:64: "the flesh profiteth nothing," he says: "Yea, but as
they understood it, for they understood that the flesh was to be eaten as
it is divided piecemeal in a dead body, or as sold in the shambles, not
as it is quickened by the spirit . . . Let the spirit draw nigh to the
flesh . . . then the flesh profiteth very much: for if the flesh
profiteth nothing, the Word had not been made flesh, that It might dwell
Reply to Objection 2: That saying of Augustine and all others like it are to be
understood of Christ's body as it is beheld in its proper species;
according as our Lord Himself says (Mt. 26:11): "But Me you have not
always." Nevertheless He is invisibly under the species of this
sacrament, wherever this sacrament is performed.
Reply to Objection 3: Christ's body is not in this sacrament in the same way as a
body is in a place, which by its dimensions is commensurate with the
place; but in a special manner which is proper to this sacrament. Hence
we say that Christ's body is upon many altars, not as in different
places, but "sacramentally": and thereby we do not understand that Christ
is there only as in a sign, although a sacrament is a kind of sign; but
that Christ's body is here after a fashion proper to this sacrament, as
Reply to Objection 4: This argument holds good of Christ's bodily presence, as He
is present after the manner of a body, that is, as it is in its visible
appearance, but not as it is spiritually, that is, invisibly, after the
manner and by the virtue of the spirit. Hence Augustine (Tract. xxvii in
Joan.) says: "If thou hast understood" Christ's words spiritually
concerning His flesh, "they are spirit and life to thee; if thou hast
understood them carnally, they are also spirit and life, but not to thee."
Article 2: Whether in this sacrament the substance of the bread and wine remains after the consecration?
Objection 1: It seems that the substance of the bread and wine does remain in
this sacrament after the consecration: because Damascene says (De Fide
Orth. iv): "Since it is customary for men to eat bread and drink wine,
God has wedded his Godhead to them, and made them His body and blood":
and further on: "The bread of communication is not simple bread, but is
united to the Godhead." But wedding together belongs to things actually
existing. Therefore the bread and wine are at the same time, in this
sacrament, with the body and the blood of Christ.
Objection 2: Further, there ought to be conformity between the sacraments. But
in the other sacraments the substance of the matter remains, like the
substance of water in Baptism, and the substance of chrism in
Confirmation. Therefore the substance of the bread and wine remains also
in this sacrament.
Objection 3: Further, bread and wine are made use of in this sacrament,
inasmuch as they denote ecclesiastical unity, as "one bread is made from
many grains and wine from many grapes," as Augustine says in his book on
the Creed (Tract. xxvi in Joan.). But this belongs to the substance of
bread and wine. Therefore, the substance of the bread and wine remains in
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "Although the figure of
the bread and wine be seen, still, after the Consecration, they are to be
believed to be nothing else than the body end blood of Christ."
I answer that, Some have held that the substance of the bread and wine
remains in this sacrament after the consecration. But this opinion cannot
stand: first of all, because by such an opinion the truth of this
sacrament is destroyed, to which it belongs that Christ's true body
exists in this sacrament; which indeed was not there before the
consecration. Now a thing cannot be in any place, where it was not
previously, except by change of place, or by the conversion of another
thing into itself; just as fire begins anew to be in some house, either
because it is carried thither, or because it is generated there. Now it
is evident that Christ's body does not begin to be present in this
sacrament by local motion. First of all, because it would follow that it
would cease to be in heaven: for what is moved locally does not come anew
to some place unless it quit the former one. Secondly, because every body
moved locally passes through all intermediary spaces, which cannot be
said here. Thirdly, because it is not possible for one movement of the
same body moved locally to be terminated in different places at the one
time, whereas the body of Christ under this sacrament begins at the one
time to be in several places. And consequently it remains that Christ's
body cannot begin to be anew in this sacrament except by change of the
substance of bread into itself. But what is changed into another thing,
no longer remains after such change. Hence the conclusion is that, saving
the truth of this sacrament, the substance of the bread cannot remain
after the consecration.
Secondly, because this position is contrary to the form of this
sacrament, in which it is said: "This is My body," which would not be
true if the substance of the bread were to remain there; for the
substance of bread never is the body of Christ. Rather should one say in
that case: "Here is My body."
Thirdly, because it would be opposed to the veneration of this
sacrament, if any substance were there, which could not be adored with
adoration of latria.
Fourthly, because it is contrary to the rite of the Church, according to
which it is not lawful to take the body of Christ after bodily food,
while it is nevertheless lawful to take one consecrated host after
another. Hence this opinion is to be avoided as heretical.
Reply to Objection 1: God "wedded His Godhead," i.e. His Divine power, to the
bread and wine, not that these may remain in this sacrament, but in order
that He may make from them His body and blood.
Reply to Objection 2: Christ is not really present in the other sacraments, as in
this; and therefore the substance of the matter remains in the other
sacraments, but not in this.
Reply to Objection 3: The species which remain in this sacrament, as shall be
said later (Article ), suffice for its signification; because the nature of
the substance is known by its accidents.
Article 3: Whether the substance of the bread or wine is annihilated after the consecration of this sacrament, or dissolved into their original matter?
Objection 1: It seems that the substance of the bread is annihilated after the
consecration of this sacrament, or dissolved into its original matter.
For whatever is corporeal must be somewhere. But the substance of bread,
which is something corporeal, does not remain, in this sacrament, as
stated above (Article ); nor can we assign any place where it may be.
Consequently it is nothing after the consecration. Therefore, it is
either annihilated, or dissolved into its original matter.
Objection 2: Further, what is the term "wherefrom" in every change exists no
longer, except in the potentiality of matter; e.g. when air is changed
into fire, the form of the air remains only in the potentiality of
matter; and in like fashion when what is white becomes black. But in this
sacrament the substance of the bread or of the wine is the term
"wherefrom," while the body or the blood of Christ is the term
"whereunto": for Ambrose says in De Officiis (De Myster. ix): "Before the
blessing it is called another species, after the blessing the body of
Christ is signified." Therefore, when the consecration takes place, the
substance of the bread or wine no longer remains, unless perchance
dissolved into its (original) matter.
Objection 3: Further, one of two contradictories must be true. But this
proposition is false: "After the consecration the substance of the bread
or wine is something." Consequently, this is true: "The substance of the
bread or wine is nothing."
On the contrary, Augustine says (Question ): "God is not the cause of
tending to nothing." But this sacrament is wrought by Divine power.
Therefore, in this sacrament the substance of the bread or wine is not
I answer that, Because the substance of the bread and wine does not
remain in this sacrament, some, deeming that it is impossible for the
substance of the bread and wine to be changed into Christ's flesh and
blood, have maintained that by the consecration, the substance of the
bread and wine is either dissolved into the original matter, or that it
Now the original matter into which mixed bodies can be dissolved is the
four elements. For dissolution cannot be made into primary matter, so
that a subject can exist without a form, since matter cannot exist
without a form. But since after the consecration nothing remains under
the sacramental species except the body and the blood of Christ, it will
be necessary to say that the elements into which the substance of the
bread and wine is dissolved, depart from thence by local motion, which
would be perceived by the senses. In like manner also the substance of
the bread or wine remains until the last instant of the consecration; but
in the last instant of the consecration there is already present there
the substance of the body or blood of Christ, just as the form is already
present in the last instant of generation. Hence no instant can be
assigned in which the original matter can be there. For it cannot be said
that the substance of the bread or wine is dissolved gradually into the
original matter, or that it successively quits the species, for if this
began to be done in the last instant of its consecration, then at the one
time under part of the host there would be the body of Christ together
with the substance of bread, which is contrary to what has been said
above (Article ). But if this begin to come to pass before the consecration,
there will then be a time in which under one part of the host there will
be neither the substance of bread nor the body of Christ, which is not
fitting. They seem indeed to have taken this into careful consideration,
wherefore they formulated their proposition with an alternative viz.
that (the substance) may be annihilated. But even this cannot stand,
because no way can be assigned whereby Christ's true body can begin to be
in this sacrament, except by the change of the substance of bread into
it, which change is excluded the moment we admit either annihilation of
the substance of the bread, or dissolution into the original matter.
Likewise no cause can be assigned for such dissolution or annihilation,
since the effect of the sacrament is signified by the form: "This is My
body." Hence it is clear that the aforesaid opinion is false.
Reply to Objection 1: The substance of the bread or wine, after the consecration,
remains neither under the sacramental species, nor elsewhere; yet it does
not follow that it is annihilated; for it is changed into the body of
Christ; just as if the air, from which fire is generated, be not there or
elsewhere, it does not follow that it is annihilated.
Reply to Objection 2: The form, which is the term "wherefrom," is not changed
into another form; but one form succeeds another in the subject; and
therefore the first form remains only in the potentiality of matter. But
here the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ, as
stated above. Hence the conclusion does not follow.
Reply to Objection 3: Although after the consecration this proposition is false:
"The substance of the breed is something," still that into which the
substance of the bread is changed, is something, and consequently the
substance of the bread is not annihilated.
Article 4: Whether bread can be converted into the body of Christ?
Objection 1: It seems that bread cannot be converted into the body of Christ.
For conversion is a kind of change. But in every change there must be
some subject, which from being previously in potentiality is now in act.
because as is said in Phys. iii: "motion is the act of a thing existing
in potentiality." But no subject can be assigned for the substance of the
bread and of the body of Christ, because it is of the very nature of
substance for it "not to be in a subject," as it is said in Praedic. iii.
Therefore it is not possible for the whole substance of the bread to be
converted into the body of Christ.
Objection 2: Further, the form of the thing into which another is converted,
begins anew to inhere in the matter of the thing converted into it: as
when air is changed into fire not already existing, the form of fire
begins anew to be in the matter of the air; and in like manner when food
is converted into non-pre-existing man, the form of the man begins to be
anew in the matter of the food. Therefore, if bread be changed into the
body of Christ, the form of Christ's body must necessarily begin to be in
the matter of the bread, which is false. Consequently, the bread is not
changed into the substance of Christ's body.
Objection 3: Further, when two things are diverse, one never becomes the
other, as whiteness never becomes blackness, as is stated in Phys. i. But
since two contrary forms are of themselves diverse, as being the
principles of formal difference, so two signate matters are of themselves
diverse, as being the principles of material distinction. Consequently,
it is not possible for this matter of bread to become this matter whereby
Christ's body is individuated, and so it is not possible for this
substance of bread to be changed into the substance of Christ's body.
On the contrary, Eusebius Emesenus says: "To thee it ought neither to be
a novelty nor an impossibility that earthly and mortal things be changed
into the substance of Christ."
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), since Christ's true body is in
this sacrament, and since it does not begin to be there by local motion,
nor is it contained therein as in a place, as is evident from what was
stated above (Article , ad 2), it must be said then that it begins to be
there by conversion of the substance of bread into itself.
Yet this change is not like natural changes, but is entirely
supernatural, and effected by God's power alone. Hence Ambrose says [(De
Sacram. iv): "See how Christ's word changes nature's laws, as He wills: a
man is not wont to be born save of man and woman: see therefore that
against the established law and order a man is born of a Virgin": and]
[*The passage in the brackets is not in the Leonine edition] (De Myster.
iv): "It is clear that a Virgin begot beyond the order of nature: and
what we make is the body from the Virgin. Why, then, do you look for
nature's order in Christ's body, since the Lord Jesus was Himself brought
forth of a Virgin beyond nature?" Chrysostom likewise (Hom. xlvii),
commenting on Jn. 6:64: "The words which I have spoken to you," namely,
of this sacrament, "are spirit and life," says: i.e. "spiritual, having
nothing carnal, nor natural consequence; but they are rent from all such
necessity which exists upon earth, and from the laws here established."
For it is evident that every agent acts according as it is in act. But
every created agent is limited in its act, as being of a determinate
genus and species: and consequently the action of every created agent
bears upon some determinate act. Now the determination of every thing in
actual existence comes from its form. Consequently, no natural or created
agent can act except by changing the form in something; and on this
account every change made according to nature's laws is a formal change.
But God is infinite act, as stated in the FP, Question , Article ; Question , Article ;
hence His action extends to the whole nature of being. Therefore He can
work not only formal conversion, so that diverse forms succeed each other
in the same subject; but also the change of all being, so that, to wit,
the whole substance of one thing be changed into the whole substance of
another. And this is done by Divine power in this sacrament; for the
whole substance of the bread is changed into the whole substance of
Christ's body, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole
substance of Christ's blood. Hence this is not a formal, but a
substantial conversion; nor is it a kind of natural movement: but, with a
name of its own, it can be called "transubstantiation."
Reply to Objection 1: This objection holds good in respect of formal change,
because it belongs to a form to be in matter or in a subject; but it does
not hold good in respect of the change of the entire substance. Hence,
since this substantial change implies a certain order of substances, one
of which is changed into the other, it is in both substances as in a
subject, just as order and number.
Reply to Objection 2: This argument also is true of formal conversion or change,
because, as stated above (ad 1), a form must be in some matter or
subject. But this is not so in a change of the entire substance; for in
this case no subject is possible.
Reply to Objection 3: Form cannot be changed into form, nor matter into matter by
the power of any finite agent. Such a change, however, can be made by the
power of an infinite agent, which has control over all being, because the
nature of being is common to both forms and to both matters; and whatever
there is of being in the one, the author of being can change into
whatever there is of being in the other, withdrawing that whereby it was
distinguished from the other.
Article 5: Whether the accidents of the bread and wine remain in this sacrament after the change?
Objection 1: It seems that the accidents of the bread and wine do not remain
in this sacrament. For when that which comes first is removed, that which
follows is also taken away. But substance is naturally before accident,
as is proved in Metaph. vii. Since, then, after consecration, the
substance of the bread does not remain in this sacrament, it seems that
its accidents cannot remain.
Objection 2: Further, there ought not to be any deception in a sacrament of
truth. But we judge of substance by accidents. It seems, then, that human
judgment is deceived, if, while the accidents remain, the substance of
the bread does not. Consequently this is unbecoming to this sacrament.
Objection 3: Further, although our faith is not subject to reason, still it is not contrary to reason, but above it, as was said in the beginning of this work (FP, Question , Article , ad 2; Article ). But our reason has its origin in the senses. Therefore our faith ought not to be contrary to the senses, as it is when sense judges that to be bread which faith believes to be the substance of Christ's body. Therefore it is not befitting this sacrament for the accidents of bread to remain subject to the senses, and for the substance of bread not to remain.
Objection 4: Further, what remains after the change has taken place seems to
be the subject of change. If therefore the accidents of the bread remain
after the change has been effected, it seems that the accidents are the
subject of the change. But this is impossible; for "an accident cannot
have an accident" (Metaph. iii). Therefore the accidents of the bread and
wine ought not to remain in this sacrament.
On the contrary, Augustine says in his book on the Sentences of Prosper
(Lanfranc, De Corp. et Sang. Dom. xiii): "Under the species which we
behold, of bread and wine, we honor invisible things, i.e. flesh and
I answer that, It is evident to sense that all the accidents of the
bread and wine remain after the consecration. And this is reasonably done
by Divine providence. First of all, because it is not customary, but
horrible, for men to eat human flesh, and to drink blood. And therefore
Christ's flesh and blood are set before us to be partaken of under the
species of those things which are the more commonly used by men, namely,
bread and wine. Secondly, lest this sacrament might be derided by
unbelievers, if we were to eat our Lord under His own species. Thirdly,
that while we receive our Lord's body and blood invisibly, this may
redound to the merit of faith.
Reply to Objection 1: As is said in the book De Causis, an effect depends more on
the first cause than on the second. And therefore by God's power, which
is the first cause of all things, it is possible for that which follows
to remain, while that which is first is taken away.
Reply to Objection 2: There is no deception in this sacrament; for the accidents
which are discerned by the senses are truly present. But the intellect,
whose proper object is substance as is said in De Anima iii, is preserved
by faith from deception.
And this serves as answer to the third argument; because faith is not
contrary to the senses, but concerns things to which sense does not reach.
Reply to Objection 4: This change has not properly a subject, as was stated above
(Article , ad 1); nevertheless the accidents which remain have some
resemblance of a subject.
Article 6: Whether the substantial form of the bread remains in this sacrament after the consecration?
Objection 1: It seems that the substantial form of the bread remains in this sacrament after the consecration. For it has been said (Article ) that the accidents remain after the consecration. But since bread is an artificial thing, its form is an accident. Therefore it remains after the consecration.
Objection 2: Further, the form of Christ's body is His soul: for it is said in
De Anima ii, that the soul "is the act of a physical body which has life
in potentiality". But it cannot be said that the substantial form of the
bread is changed into the soul. Therefore it appears that it remains
after the consecration.
Objection 3: Further, the proper operation of a things follows its substantial
form. But what remains in this sacrament, nourishes, and performs every
operation which bread would do were it present. Therefore the substantial
form of the bread remains in this sacrament after the consecration.
On the contrary, The substantial form of bread is of the substance of
bread. But the substance of the bread is changed into the body of Christ,
as stated above (Articles ,3,4). Therefore the substantial form of the bread
does not remain.
I answer that, Some have contended that after the consecration not only
do the accidents of the bread remain, but also its substantial form. But
this cannot be. First of all, because if the substantial form of the
bread were to remain, nothing of the bread would be changed into the body
of Christ, excepting the matter; and so it would follow that it would be
changed, not into the whole body of Christ, but into its matter, which is
repugnant to the form of the sacrament, wherein it is said: "This is My
Secondly, because if the substantial form of the bread were to remain,
it would remain either in matter, or separated from matter. The first
cannot be, for if it were to remain in the matter of the bread, then the
whole substance of the bread would remain, which is against what was said
above (Article ). Nor could it remain in any other matter, because the proper
form exists only in its proper matter. But if it were to remain separate
from matter, it would then be an actually intelligible form, and also an
intelligence; for all forms separated from matter are such.
Thirdly, it would be unbefitting this sacrament: because the accidents
of the bread remain in this sacrament, in order that the body of Christ
may be seen under them, and not under its proper species, as stated above
And therefore it must be said that the substantial form of the bread
does not remain.
Reply to Objection 1: There is nothing to prevent art from making a thing whose
form is not an accident, but a substantial form; as frogs and serpents
can be produced by art: for art produces such forms not by its own power,
but by the power of natural energies. And in this way it produces the
substantial forms of bread, by the power of fire baking the matter made
up of flour and water.
Reply to Objection 2: The soul is the form of the body, giving it the whole order
of perfect being, i.e. being, corporeal being, and animated being, and
so on. Therefore the form of the bread is changed into the form of
Christ's body, according as the latter gives corporeal being, but not
according as it bestows animated being.
Reply to Objection 3: Some of the operations of bread follow it by reason of the accidents, such as to affect the senses, and such operations are found in the species of the bread after the consecration on account of the accidents which remain. But some other operations follow the bread either by reason of the matter, such as that it is changed into something else, or else by reason of the substantial form, such as an operation consequent upon its species, for instance, that it "strengthens man's heart" (Ps. 103:15); and such operations are found in this sacrament, not on account of the form or matter remaining, but because they are bestowed miraculously upon the accidents themselves, as will be said later (Question , Article , ad 2,3; Articles ,6).
Article 7: Whether this change is wrought instantaneously?
Objection 1: It seems that this change is not wrought instantaneously, but
successively. For in this change there is first the substance of bread,
and afterwards the substance of Christ's body. Neither, then, is in the
same instant, but in two instants. But there is a mid-time between every
two instants. Therefore this change must take place according to the
succession of time, which is between the last instant in which the bread
is there, and the first instant in which the body of Christ is present.
Objection 2: Further, in every change something is "in becoming" and something
is "in being." But these two things do not exist at the one time for,
what is "in becoming," is not yet, whereas what is "in being," already
is. Consequently, there is a before and an after in such change: and so
necessarily the change cannot be instantaneous, but successive.
Objection 3: Further, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv) that this sacrament "is
made by the words of Christ." But Christ's words are pronounced
successively. Therefore the change takes place successively.
On the contrary, This change is effected by a power which is infinite,
to which it belongs to operate in an instant.
I answer that, A change may be instantaneous from a threefold reason.
First on the part of the form, which is the terminus of the change. For,
if it be a form that receives more and less, it is acquired by its
subject successively, such as health; and therefore because a substantial
form does not receive more and less, it follows that its introduction
into matter is instantaneous.
Secondly on the part of the subject, which sometimes is prepared
successively for receiving the form; thus water is heated successively.
When, however, the subject itself is in the ultimate disposition for
receiving the form, it receives it suddenly, as a transparent body is
illuminated suddenly. Thirdly on the part of the agent, which possesses
infinite power: wherefore it can instantly dispose the matter for the
form. Thus it is written (Mk. 7:34) that when Christ had said,
"'Ephpheta,' which is 'Be thou opened,' immediately his ears were opened,
and the string of his tongue was loosed."
For these three reasons this conversion is instantaneous. First, because
the substance of Christ's body which is the term of this conversion, does
not receive more or less. Secondly, because in this conversion there is
no subject to be disposed successively. Thirdly, because it is effected
by God's infinite power.
Reply to Objection 1: Some [*Cf. Albert the Great, Sent. iv, D, 11; St.
Bonaventure, Sent., iv, D, 11] do not grant simply that there is a
mid-time between every two instants. For they say that this is true of
two instants referring to the same movement, but not if they refer to
different things. Hence between the instant that marks the close of rest,
and another which marks the beginning of movement, there is no mid-time.
But in this they are mistaken, because the unity of time and of instant,
or even their plurality, is not taken according to movements of any sort,
but according to the first movement of the heavens, which is the measure
of all movement and rest.
Accordingly others grant this of the time which measures movement
depending on the movement of the heavens. But there are some movements
which are not dependent on the movement of the heavens, nor measured by
it, as was said in the FP, Question , Article  concerning the movements of the
angels. Hence between two instants responding to those movements there is
no mid-time. But this is not to the point, because although the change in
question has no relation of itself to the movement of the heavens, still
it follows the pronouncing of the words, which (pronouncing) must
necessarily be measured by the movement of the heavens. And therefore
there must of necessity be a mid-time between every two signate instants
in connection with that change.
Some say therefore that the instant in which the bread was last, and the
instant in which the body of Christ is first, are indeed two in
comparison with the things measured, but are one comparatively to the
time measuring; as when two lines touch, there are two points on the part
of the two lines, but one point on the part of the place containing them.
But here there is no likeness, because instant and time is not the
intrinsic measure of particular movements, as a line and point are of a
body, but only the extrinsic measure, as place is to bodies.
Hence others say that it is the same instant in fact, but another
according to reason. But according to this it would follow that things
really opposite would exist together; for diversity of reason does not
change a thing objectively.
And therefore it must be said that this change, as stated above, is
wrought by Christ's words which are spoken by the priest, so that the
last instant of pronouncing the words is the first instant in which
Christ's body is in the sacrament; and that the substance of the bread is
there during the whole preceding time. Of this time no instant is to be
taken as proximately preceding the last one, because time is not made up
of successive instants, as is proved in Phys. vi. And therefore a first
instant can be assigned in which Christ's body is present; but a last
instant cannot be assigned in which the substance of bread is there, but
a last time can be assigned. And the same holds good in natural changes,
as is evident from the Philosopher (Phys. viii).
Reply to Objection 2: In instantaneous changes a thing is "in becoming," and is
"in being" simultaneously; just as becoming illuminated and to be
actually illuminated are simultaneous: for in such, a thing is said to be
"in being" according as it now is; but to be "in becoming," according as
it was not before.
Reply to Objection 3: As stated above (ad 1), this change comes about in the last
instant of the pronouncing of the words. for then the meaning of the
words is finished, which meaning is efficacious in the forms of the
sacraments. And therefore it does not follow that this change is
Article 8: Whether this proposition is false: "The body of Christ is made out of bread"?
Objection 1: It seems that this proposition is false: "The body of Christ is
made out of bread." For everything out of which another is made, is that
which is made the other; but not conversely: for we say that a black
thing is made out of a white thing, and that a white thing is made black:
and although we may say that a man becomes black still we do not say that
a black thing is made out of a man, as is shown in Phys. i. If it be
true, then, that Christ's body is made out of bread, it will be true to
say that bread is made the body of Christ. But this seems to be false,
because the bread is not the subject of the making, but rather its term.
Therefore, it is not said truly that Christ's body is made out of bread.
Objection 2: Further, the term of "becoming" is something that is, or
something that is "made." But this proposition is never true: "The bread
is the body of Christ"; or "The bread is made the body of Christ"; or
again, "The bread will be the body of Christ." Therefore it seems that
not even this is true: "The body of Christ is made out of bread."
Objection 3: Further, everything out of which another is made is converted
into that which is made from it. But this proposition seems to be false:
"The bread is converted into the body of Christ," because such
conversion seems to be more miraculous than the creation of the world, in
which it is not said that non-being is converted into being. Therefore it
seems that this proposition likewise is false: "The body of Christ is
made out of bread."
Objection 4: Further, that out of which something is made, can be that thing.
But this proposition is false: "Bread can be the body of Christ."
Therefore this is likewise false: "The body of Christ is made out of
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "When the consecration
takes place, the body of Christ is made out of the bread."
I answer that, This conversion of bread into the body of Christ has
something in common with creation, and with natural transmutation, and in
some respect differs from both. For the order of the terms is common to
these three; that is, that after one thing there is another (for, in
creation there is being after non-being; in this sacrament, Christ's body
after the substance of bread; in natural transmutation white after black,
or fire after air); and that the aforesaid terms are not coexistent.
Now the conversion, of which we are speaking, has this in common with
creation, that in neither of them is there any common subject belonging
to either of the extremes; the contrary of which appears in every natural
Again, this conversion has something in common with natural
transmutation in two respects, although not in the same fashion. First of
all because in both, one of the extremes passes into the other, as bread
into Christ's body, and air into fire; whereas non-being is not converted
into being. But this comes to pass differently on the one side and on the
other; for in this sacrament the whole substance of the bread passes into
the whole body of Christ; whereas in natural transmutation the matter of
the one receives the form of the other, the previous form being laid
aside. Secondly, they have this in common, that on both sides something
remains the same; whereas this does not happen in creation: yet
differently; for the same matter or subject remains in natural
transmutation; whereas in this sacrament the same accidents remain.
From these observations we can gather the various ways of speaking in
such matters. For, because in no one of the aforesaid three things are
the extremes coexistent, therefore in none of them can one extreme be
predicated of the other by the substantive verb of the present tense: for
we do not say, "Non-being is being" or, "Bread is the body of Christ,"
or, "Air is fire," or, "White is black." Yet because of the relationship
of the extremes in all of them we can use the preposition "ex" [out of],
which denotes order; for we can truly and properly say that "being is
made out of non-being," and "out of bread, the body of Christ," and "out
of air, fire," and "out of white, black." But because in creation one of
the extremes does not pass into the other, we cannot use the word
"conversion" in creation, so as to say that "non-being is converted into
being": we can, however, use the word in this sacrament, just as in
natural transmutation. But since in this sacrament the whole substance is
converted into the whole substance, on that account this conversion is
properly termed transubstantiation.
Again, since there is no subject of this conversion, the things which
are true in natural conversion by reason of the subject, are not to be
granted in this conversion. And in the first place indeed it is evident
that potentiality to the opposite follows a subject, by reason whereof we
say that "a white thing can be black," or that "air can be fire";
although the latter is not so proper as the former: for the subject of
whiteness, in which there is potentiality to blackness, is the whole
substance of the white thing; since whiteness is not a part thereof;
whereas the subject of the form of air is part thereof: hence when it is
said, "Air can be fire," it is verified by synecdoche by reason of the
part. But in this conversion, and similarly in creation, because there is
no subject, it is not said that one extreme can be the other, as that
"non-being can be being," or that "bread can be the body of Christ": and
for the same reason it cannot be properly said that "being is made of
[de] non-being," or that "the body of Christ is made of bread," because
this preposition "of" [de] denotes a consubstantial cause, which
consubstantiality of the extremes in natural transmutations is considered
according to something common in the subject. And for the same reason it
is not granted that "bread will be the body of Christ," or that it "may
become the body of Christ," just as it is not granted in creation that
"non-being will be being," or that "non-being may become being," because
this manner of speaking is verified in natural transmutations by reason
of the subject: for instance, when we say that "a white thing becomes
black," or "a white thing will be black."
Nevertheless, since in this sacrament, after the change, something
remains the same, namely, the accidents of the bread, as stated above
(Article ), some of these expressions may be admitted by way of similitude,
namely, that "bread is the body of Christ," or, "bread will be the body
of Christ," or "the body of Christ is made of bread"; provided that by
the word "bread" is not understood the substance of bread, but in general
"that which is contained under the species of bread," under which species
there is first contained the substance of bread, and afterwards the body
Reply to Objection 1: That out of which something else is made, sometimes implies together with the subject, one of the extremes of the transmutation, as when it is said "a black thing is made out of a white one"; but sometimes it implies only the opposite or the extreme, as when it is said---"out of morning comes the day." And so it is not granted that the latter becomes the former, that is, "that morning becomes the day." So likewise in the matter in hand, although it may be said properly that "the body of Christ is made out of bread," yet it is not said properly that "bread becomes the body of Christ," except by similitude, as was said above.
Reply to Objection 2: That out of which another is made, will sometimes be that
other because of the subject which is implied. And therefore, since there
is no subject of this change, the comparison does not hold.
Reply to Objection 3: In this change there are many more difficulties than in
creation, in which there is but this one difficulty, that something is
made out of nothing; yet this belongs to the proper mode of production of
the first cause, which presupposes nothing else. But in this conversion
not only is it difficult for this whole to be changed into that whole, so
that nothing of the former may remain (which does not belong to the
common mode of production of a cause), but furthermore it has this
difficulty that the accidents remain while the substance is destroyed,
and many other difficulties of which we shall treat hereafter (Question ).
Nevertheless the word "conversion" is admitted in this sacrament, but not
in creation, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 4: As was observed above, potentiality belongs to the subject,
whereas there is no subject in this conversion. And therefore it is not
granted that bread can be the body of Christ: for this conversion does
not come about by the passive potentiality of the creature, but solely by
the active power of the Creator.